Donald Penn

AFC Notes: Steelers, Big Ben, Raiders

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger landed in concussion protocol after absorbing a big hit in practice, but he is doing fine now and is expected to resume football activities soon, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Remarkably, this was Roethlisberger’s first time in the protocol, and fortunately it was a short stay for the 36-year-old.

Roethlisberger has said that his “long-term brain health” would play a role in the length of his NFL career, so the good news was certainly welcome for the Steelers QB.

Here’s more from the AFC:

AFC West Notes: Henderson, Broncos, Penn

Carlos Henderson has had a tough time so far in the NFL. After being taken with the 82nd overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Broncos, Henderson is yet to make his NFL debut. A hand injury cost him his entire rookie season, and he’s been away from the team this training camp for undisclosed reasons.

The team took Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton in the draft this year, making the receivers room very crowded with no clear spot for Henderson. To make matters even worse, Henderson was suspended for the first week of the season for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy reports Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link).

It likely stems from his arrest back in January on marijuana charges. Given that Henderson was already being projected by many as a roster cut and still hasn’t reported to the team, at this point it would be surprising if the former third round pick remains in Denver much longer.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • The details are in on Donald Penn‘s contract restructuring with the Raiders. His cap number in 2018 has been reduced to $4.975MM (down from $8.38MM0, and he’ll get $2.75MM in extra guaranteed money on his deal for 2019, a source told Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • The reason for Martavis Bryant‘s absence from the last couple of Raiders practices is migraines, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tafur adds that migraines have “plagued him for years.”
  • The Raiders placed veteran defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin on injured reserve with a biceps tear, according to Michael Gehlken of Las Vegas Review-Journal (Twitter link). To make up for the loss of Rubin, the team claimed defensive tackle Gabe Wright off waivers today.

West Notes: Rams, Donald, Raiders, Penn

The Chiefs gave up on Marcus Peters largely because of his conduct in the locker room. Peters was the source of many headaches in KC, but head coach Sean McVay says the Rams did their homework on the cornerback before trading for him this offseason.

You talk to the people that have been around him, that you really value their opinion, you trust it,” McVay said (via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com). “Got a lot of good things that came back in terms of a guy that loves football, does a lot of really good things for his community.”

The Rams added other bold personalities on defense, including cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but McVay isn’t concerned about how everyone will gel. McVay feels that 71-year-old defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has “more swag” than all of them combined and has the ability to keep them in line.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

Raiders Restructure Donald Penn’s Contract

It sounds like Donald Penn will be sticking with the Raiders. Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (via Twitter) that the two sides have agreed to a restructured contract. We heard last week that the organization wanted the offensive lineman to take a pay cut, and they’d consider trading the veteran if he refused.

According to Gehlken, Penn agreed to a deal with “team-friendly parameters.” In exchange, the lineman will receive more guaranteed money over the next two years. The 35-year-old was set to earn a $6MM salary in 2018 (including $3MM in guaranteed money), as well as up to $1.75MM in per-game roster bonuses. These numbers stem from the two-year, $21MM extension he signed last year following a hold out. The deal runs through the 2019 season.

The 12-year veteran appeared in 14 games for the Raiders last season, the first time in his career that he failed to appear in all 16 regular season contests. Pro Football Focus ultimately ranked him 23rd among eligible tackles, proving that the veteran still has something left in the tank. The team seemingly selected a successor in first-rounder Kolton Miller during this past year’s draft, but the Raiders are hoping to slot both players into the starting lineup.

Of course, Penn still has to return to the field to make that a reality. He ended last season on the injured reserve with a foot injury, and he’s currently sitting on the Raiders’ physically unable to perform list following offseason surgery.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Could Trade LT Donald Penn

The Raiders are reportedly asking left tackle Donald Penn to accept a pay cut in advance of the 2018 season, and it’s possible Oakland could trade the veteran offensive lineman if he declines the request, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).

That the Raiders would be open to dealing Penn shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the club is likely attempting to generate trade interest in lieu of a release. If Penn refuses to lower his 2018 base salary, Oakland will consider cutting him, but a trade would be preferential on two fronts.

First, the Raiders would pick up some sort of compensation in exchange for Penn, something they wouldn’t do in the event of a release. And an acquiring club would take on Penn’s 2018 base salary (which includes $3MM in full guarantees), freeing up more cap space for Oakland.

Penn, 35, is scheduled to earn a $6MM salary in 2018, and is also eligible to collect up to $1.75MM in per-game roster bonuses. Those figures are the result of Penn’s 2017 training camp holdout, which ended when he agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension that runs through the 2019 campaign.

Last year, Penn started 14 games for the Raiders, grading as the NFL’s No. 12 offensive tackle per Pro Football Focus before being placed on injured reserve with a foot issue. 2017, notably, marked the first season of Penn’s career in which he failed to appear in all 16 games. If Penn is traded or released, Oakland would deploy rookie first-round pick Kolton Miller on Derek Carr‘s blindside.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Notes: Mack, Penn, Lee, Key

Khalil Mack and the Raiders are continuing their months-long staredown, an uneventful one at that, and have not made any recent progress, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. The subject of the Raiders’ wherewithal to pay their top player the guaranteed money he seeks still lurks, even if no official report has suggested this. Mark Davis‘ status as one of the league’s most cash-poor owners may become more relevant if the Rams agree to a deal with Aaron Donald soon, thus establishing a neighborhood for a Mack contract, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. Reggie McKenzie does not expect Mack to report without a contract, and Corry adds the Raiders’ agreement with Donald Penn on an extension after he ended his holdout probably doesn’t serve as relevant for the Mack situation. Due to the Raiders having not submitted an offer this offseason, Corry does not anticipate one would emerge shortly after he reported to the team.

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • The Raiders indeed want Penn to accept a pay cut, Bair reports. This prospect surfaced earlier Wednesday, with a possible restructure being on the table as well. Penn, however, denied on Wednesday morning the Raiders have approached him about a reduction, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Penn has a cap number of $8.38MM. If the Raiders release him, Bair notes they would save $3MM — the non-guaranteed part of Penn’s $6MM base salary. And Penn would also miss out on $1.75MM in per-game roster bonuses. But Penn’s camp may be inclined to ride this out, leaving Jon Gruden to consider the prospect of a rookie (Kolton Miller) protecting Derek Carr‘s blind side, Tafur writes. Carr suffered a season-ending injury in 2016 and struggled with a back ailment last season.
  • Currently residing on the PUP list due to Lisfranc surgery in December, Penn is improving, Gruden said (via Bair, on Twitter). The Oakland HC said Penn is getting close and is hopefully back soon.
  • Gruden’s spoken highly of Derrick Johnson after adding the longtime Chiefs stalwart this offseason, but Tafur notes second-year linebacker Marquel Lee may now be better positioned to start at middle linebacker. Johnson could still factor in on passing downs, per Tafur, even at age 35. But he adds rookie UDFA Jason Cabina is seeing work in nickel sets as well. Lee impressed the Raiders last year, but that optimism soon gave way to the team signing NaVorro Bowman and installing him as the starter. The Raiders discussed a Bowman return this offseason, but the sides couldn’t agree on terms. A Vontaze Burfict trade didn’t get too far off the ground either, per Tafur.
  • If/when Mack re-emerges, new DC Paul Guenther is planning a passing-down set featuring Mack, Irvin, Arden Key and whichever of the Mario Edwards/Maurice Hurst/P.J. Hall trio is playing the best at that time, Bair notes. Key’s inclusion as the No. 3 man here is interesting, considering Edwards’ experience as an inside rusher and Key’s own fall to the third round. But the LSU product, once considered a possible first-rounder, has impressed the Raiders this summer.

Raiders Want Donald Penn To Take Pay Cut

The Raiders are pushing for Donald Penn to take a pay cut, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Specifics are unclear, but Gehlken gets the sense that the Raiders will ask Penn to convert most or all of his $3MM guarantee into bonuses or incentives. 

Last year, Penn stayed away from the club as he pressured them for a new deal. His tactics worked as Oakland gave him a two-year, $21MM extension to remove his lame duck status.

Penn more or less played up to the expectations of the new deal last year as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 ranked tackle in the NFL. Unfortunately, however, he suffered a Lisfranc fracture against the Cowboys in December and remains on the PUP list as a result.

Ostensibly, the Raiders still want to move forward with Penn. First-round pick Kolton Miller has impressed in camp this summer, but the ideal arrangement for Oakland is to have both players starting on the offensive line. For that to happen, the 35-year-old may be forced to rework his contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Foster, Joseph, Mack

Good news for Steelers fans. Left guard Ramon Foster, who was carted off the practice field yesterday, hyperextended his knee but did not suffer any ligament damage and will not require surgery, as Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Kinkhabwala adds that Foster will miss four to five weeks but is expected to be ready for Week 1.

Now let’s get to more notes from around the AFC:

  • Browns owner Jimmy Haslam expressed unwavering support of head coach Hue Jackson during Haslam’s traditional training camp address yesterday. Per Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 WKNR, Haslam said, “I think we will see the real Hue Jackson (this year). He has good quarterbacks, he has some skill players, he has veteran offensive line – now, we have to figure out left tackle – and three really good backs and a good defense. I think this will be the first opportunity Hue will have to do what we know he can do as head coach and as a leader. We are excited to see it.” That certainly sounds to some, like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that Jackson is getting a clean slate, which is quite surprising for a head coach who has compiled a 1-31 record over his two seasons with the club. But Grossi suggests that the Haslams could also be subtly putting Jackson on notice that he is out of excuses.
  • Johnathan Joseph, who signed a two-year, $10MM deal to remain with the Texans this offseason, does not plan on calling it quits anytime soon, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. The 34-year-old Joseph is entering the 13th year of his career, but he remains a starting cornerback and stills loves the game and the camaraderie it engenders. Joseph said, “as long as I’m healthy and I’m fine, I’m going to go out there and compete and contribute to the team. I’ll never play this game just to be playing and out there taking checks and stuff like that. So, if I’m able to be out there playing winning football, I’ll always play.”
  • We learned several days ago that Raiders star defensive end Khalil Mack, who is staying away from the team in an effort to land a new contract, has not spoken with head coach Jon Gruden since Gruden was hired in January. That report sent some of Raiders Nation into panic mode, but as Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News opines, there is no cause for alarm. He says Gruden is right to stay out of the negotiations, which is the domain of GM Reggie McKenzie and ownership, and that there should be no issues between Mack and Gruden when the contract situation does get resolved. McKenzie, meanwhile had no updates to offer on the negotiations.
  • In other Raiders news, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com reports that rookie Kolton Miller will be given every chance to win the starting LT job from Donald Penn, who is currently on the PUP list.
  • Embattled Bills DE Shaq Lawson could be on his way out of Buffalo, but DC Leslie Frazier isn’t casting him aside just yet. Frazier said Lawson’s best football is ahead of him, and that he is much too young to say that 2018 is a make-or-break year (via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW on Twitter). However, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets, Frazier also refers to Trent Murphy as the team’s starting left end, which is further evidence that Lawson has ground to make up if he wants to remain a Bill.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Mahomes, Penn

The Dolphins have a number of running backs who could realistically earn the starting gig this season. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore are the obvious frontrunners, and the organization is also expecting rookie Kalen Ballage to contribute at some point during the upcoming campaign.

With several options to choose from, running backs coach Eric Studesville made it sound like the Dolphins won’t necessarily opt for a two-headed (or even three-headed) monster.

“The guy that gives us the best chance to win, that gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to win,” Studesville told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, “that’s who’s got to be the guy who’s out there for us and helping us win football games.

“We’ve got to get everybody up to speed to where they all know it, we’re all confident in our assignments and then let them go play. And they’re going to sort out what those roles are as we go. I don’t think we have that set right now. We just have to wait and see how it goes.”

As the Dolphins sort out their running back depth, let’s check out some more notes out of the AFC…

  • Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes received a number of endorsement offers during his rookie campaign. However, the quarterback ended up turning down those deals, as he was more focused on gaining the respect of his teammates (instead of cashing every possible check). “We talked about how the first year the goal was to integrate into the team, and the only way to do that is to pay deference to the incumbent veterans and try not to go into the situation with a high profile,” his agent, Leigh Steinberg, told ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We intentionally didn’t do endorsements that would run in the Kansas City area even though they were offered. We didn’t want him to be on billboards and everything when he wasn’t even playing.” While it sounds like plenty of local businesses want to capitalize on Mahomes’ fame, the signal-caller will surely be eyeing some national gigs if his development goes as planned.
  • During this past year’s draft, the Raiders used the 15th-overall pick to select left tackle Kolton Miller. That selection didn’t sit well with incumbent left tackle Donald Penn. “I’m not going to lie, as soon as I saw the draft pick, I called [coach Jon] Gruden immediately,” Penn said during as appearance on Michael Rapoport’s podcast (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “He didn’t answer, but when I saw him the next Monday, he was joking with me saying, ‘You were ready to kick my a**, huh, Donald?! You were mad.” The 35-year-old, who has spent the past four years with the team, is still expected to start for the Raiders in 2018.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins made a pair of moves yesterday. The team signed first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to his rookie contract, and they signed cornerback Bobby McCain to an extension later that afternoon.

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Ingram, Raiders

Having funneled their pass offense through Travis Kelce for several seasons and having not invested much in their No. 2 wide receiver job in many years, the Chiefs surprised most observers by authorizing a monster contract for Sammy Watkins. The fifth-year wideout’s three-year, $48MM deal — with $30MM guaranteed — is having a league-wide effect, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. Julio Jones, who is signed to a $14.25MM-per-year deal, is now seeking additional dollars. And Corry adds Odell Beckham Jr.‘s hopes to become the league’s first $20MM-AAV wide receiver is not a crazy demand anymore now that Watkins has signed a top-five contract without supplying production to justify it. Corry adds that Watkins’ $16MM-AAV contract will become Brandin Cooks‘ floor, assuming he fares well in Los Angeles this season.

As for the Chiefs, Watkins justifying the contract could be difficult, as Corry writes, since the newcomer may be the No. 4 option in his next offense. Kelce and Kareem Hunt are entrenched as the top components of Kansas City’s attack, and Tyreek Hill put together a strong 2017 featuring 1,183 air yards and seven touchdowns. Watkins caught 39 passes for 583 yards last season, and his career-best numbers were 1,047 and nine with the 2015 Bills. Hill becomes extension-eligible after this season and his contract expires after 2019. Those talks could be tricky if he outproduces Watkins this season. Only two teams — the Packers and Broncos — are paying two wideouts eight figures annually, and the Chiefs could be set to encounter an interesting dilemma once Hill talks begin.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West:

  • Melvin Ingram may not be attending the Chargers‘ OTA sessions. The star pass rusher missed Tuesday’s session and is training in Florida, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports, adding that Ingram cleared his absence with Anthony Lynn. Ingram skipped the start of these workouts last year, but he was not under contract because he had yet to sign his franchise tender. He’s now signed a long-term Bolts deal.
  • Bruce Irvin played as a 4-3 outside linebacker the past two seasons with the Raiders, but new DC Paul Guenther is moving him to defensive end, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Irvin often played end during his first two seasons in Oakland, but did so in sub-packages while lining up as a stand-up ‘backer in most base sets, similar to the Broncos’ usage of Von Miller from 2011-14. Irvin began his career as a defensive end before the Seahawks relocated him. Now that Irvin is at end, Gutierrez notes Tahir Whitehead and Emmanuel Lamur lined up as outside linebackers with the Raiders’ first-stringers at Tuesday’s OTA session.
  • Also at Raiders OTAs, Gareon Conley participated fully, per Gutierrez. A shin injury wiped out most of the 2017 first-rounder’s rookie season, and only recently did the former Ohio State standout receive full clearance.
  • Donald Penn will be limited during these workouts, with Gutierrez noting the longtime Oakland left tackle is still recovering from Lisfranc surgery. Penn is not expected to be ready to participate fully until training camp. For now, second-year player David Sharpe took the reps in 11-on-11 work while Breno Giacomini opened with the starters at right tackle. The Raiders are planning to have Kolton Miller train as a left tackle to start his career.
  • The Chiefs will be without their backup tight end in Week 1. Demetrius Harris received a one-game suspension for a 2017 marijuana arrest that induced a multi-day jail stay, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Harris established new career-high marks last season with 18 receptions for 224 yards. The Chiefs added former Jets second-rounder Jace Amaro this offseason, but Harris has been with the team for the past four seasons. Amaro hasn’t played since 2016.
  • Clinton McDonald did not participate in Broncos OTAs on Tuesday, and Mike Klis of 9News notes the veteran defensive lineman is still recovering from a March shoulder operation. The Broncos knew of this procedure when they signed him in March, per Klis. He adds McDonald is expected to be ready for camp.